Arnold York didn’t write it in any recent columns, but he said it to me directly and I agreed: The July 1 planning commission public hearing was the most raucous, loudest display of passion for the Malibu people since cityhood in 1991. Others have concurred. I will go even further. It may have been a watershed moment in Malibu history. Let’s hope.

Before completely ignoring the protests of over 100 citizens, the commission chairman that night spent considerable time trying to keep people from clapping after each speaker. Yes, the City of Malibu will dictate your house size and when you can clap. 

The people of Malibu have grown tired of local government oppression and arrogance. They have been lobsters put to boil long enough. In one glorious night, they said, “Stop!” July 1 was our Hong Kong moment.

Margaret Thatcher famously said that the problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money. I’d propose that here in Malibu, the local government has run out of people to screw over.

During the ‘90s, our new city piled endless, no-growth-inspired building regulations onto the books. At first, few people were affected. It all passed, politically. By now, however, most property owners in Malibu have been personally burdened by time-consuming, senseless, expensive, tyrannical regulations related to their own property. Every regulation reduces the utility of a property. Every reduction in utility is a reduction in its value! An over-the-top, restrictive planning policy has taken billions of dollars of net worth from local citizens. 

The Walt Keller-John Mazza-Rick Mullen (usually) axis has prevailed to this point, but apparently no longer. The Woolsey Fire, ironically, turned the tables. On that horrible day, the city, county, fire, police—every government agency—completely failed the people of Malibu.

Since that outrage, the local government has been responsive and helpful to fire rebuild applicants—the best ever. City staff are working genuinely to get permits approved, rather than delayed. A breath of fresh air. And then this. 

The fights of Don Schmitz, Paul Grisanti and others for years to bring reason to our local building laws now have an ear—hundreds of ears, by the sounds of the July 1 and 8 meetings.

Here’s a question for the small, radical no-growth segment of Malibu. If you are so interested in Malibu being like it was in the 1960s, how about this: How about a permitting process like in the 1960s, where it only took a few months to get the approval to build the dream home you wanted? (On your own land.) Now, it takes five years, and city staff dictates your options.

More than one speaker July 1 said that Malibu remains the most oppressive government, and least responsive to the needs of its citizens than any they see throughout Southern California. Another said property values are already depressed in Malibu 15-20 percent to compensate for the permitting process and regulations that are such a nightmare (that was me).

The size of a new home (and hundreds of other personal choices) should be up to the property owner, not Rick Mullen and John Mazza’s whims. As Arnold suggested previously, running a government by personal envy is not the way to go. The straw men arguments of these fanatics, that big houses only bring developers, rehabs and short-term rentals, have zero basis in fact. 

Now, locals realize those same arguments ultimately determine what you can put in your garden. A thousand aspects of your property, which are no business of anyone and affects nobody, are now tightly controlled by bureaucrats who smile nicely and just do their job, as they cost you untold amounts of money and cause you literal nightmares. People just want to reasonably build or live in their Malibu dream home. 

Malibu folks are realizing, after the Woolsey Fire and the July 1 spectacle, they need to pay closer attention to City Hall. Every effort to reduce property rights hurts the people of Malibu. The future should be increasing the freedom folks have with their own property, and thus making them and the whole city richer.

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